Foxes and dogs are cousins under the same family known as Canidae. They are both excellent runners and have a keen sense of smell. The difference is, unlike their domesticated relatives, foxes can be wild and feral.
However, there are certainly some cases where foxes are kept as house pets or seen to be on good terms with humans in local neighborhoods.
So, are foxes friendly? Foxes are friendly. However, they have unpredictable natures and can resort to aggression when threatened, disturbed, or agitated, which is why they must be approached with extreme caution.
This article will provide knowledge on whether or not foxes can make for ideal household pets, how they act around humans and other animals, the difference between types of foxes according to the level of domestication, and what to do when coming face-to-face with a fox.
Table of Contents
Are Foxes Bad to Have Around?
Foxes are not really bad to have around. They’re not known to attack humans and are quite friendly to babies or children. There are even instances of young foxes playing with them.
However, foxes will rummage through trash cans, build dens and food caches in yards, leave droppings, make loud noises, and prey on livestock which may pose problems in local communities.
Can a Fox Be a Good Pet?
Foxes, in general, cannot be good pets because of their volatile nature and the risk of disrupting natural biodiversity.
In some countries, owning a fox is illegal or restricted because of the risk of spreading rabies infection among canids, and they can be potential sources of bacterial, parasitic, and even fungal infections.
But there are certain fox species that can be great as pets, such as fennec foxes due to their friendly behavior and small size. They’re considered the smallest canid at 14 to 16 inches.
Domesticated silver foxes can also be claimed as pets. In fact, a 2011 study suggests that the majority of domesticated foxes are originally conceived from farm-bred silver foxes.
Are Foxes Friendly to Dogs?
Foxes are friendly to dogs. They usually ignore the presence of dogs, especially larger ones as they can be intimidated by their sizes. Tame foxes can even forge friendships with their furry cousins.
Puppies, on the other hand, may be vulnerable, considering they have yet to develop defense mechanisms. However, only in rare cases will you hear that a fox has eaten a puppy.
Occasionally, you can see foxes fighting with smaller dogs, but it is not a cause for concern. However, to be safe, protect your dogs by keeping them indoors.
Will a Fox Eat a Cat?
Fox will eat a cat, but only smaller-sized cats, sickly cats, and kittens. However, this occurs in rare cases.
They mainly eat rabbits and other small livestock usually weighing around 35 to 5500 grams, such as chickens, ducks, domestic ostrich, emu chicks, newborn goats, deer, and lamb.
When faced with larger cats, foxes will not consider them as prey but instead as opponents or threats to their lives. The first thing they do is either defend themselves or run away.
Can a Fox Be Aggressive?
Fox can be aggressive. When they feel threatened, agitated, or backed into a corner. As a defense mechanism, they might bite or growl at humans and other animals.
However, healthy foxes usually don’t pose any danger to humans and other animals and are rarely seen to be aggressive.
Keep in mind that foxes infected with rabies may act unnaturally calm or friendly to humans and must be rid of immediately.
Make sure to always be on the lookout for a fox’s body language for any sudden changes in how they act. Contact your local rangers if foxes are starting to bother you.
Can You Tame a Fox?
You can tame a fox, but it has consequences. After being acquainted with the fox and letting it get used to human presence, feeding them will be a surefire way of taming them.
In some states, it is prohibited to feed foxes, and can be fined under the law because once fed, foxes will lose their fear of humans, act boldly, and become nuisances.
When foxes are tamed, they can lose their survival abilities in the wild. So, it is highly discouraged to tame foxes even when they were reared in captivity.
What to Do if a Fox Approaches You?
Don’t approach the fox yourself and avoid crowding their space, as this can agitate them. They should always have escape routes available in the environment.
Intimidate the fox by maintaining eye contact, making loud noises, using a flashlight and other sources of bright light, or throwing small rocks. Continue doing any of the methods until the fox retreats.
Never do the intimidation tactics when foxes don’t have escape routes or if they’re not approaching you in the first place. This may potentially warrant their aggression.
Wild vs. Tame vs. Domesticated Foxes
The table below shows a comparison of the three types of foxes according to their level of domestication:
|Fox Type||Wild Foxes||Tame Foxes||Domesticated Foxes|
|Location||Found in grasslands, mountains, deserts, and forests||Can be found in homes where they’re kept as pets||Found in farms or conceived through government/scientific breeding programs|
|Characteristics||Active during the night when they hunt for food. They give out loud or high-pitched noises, are smelly, and build dens for homes and stocking food.||Friendly and sometimes even affectionate to humans, playful, and can adapt to a life indoors. However, they’re still big troublemakers.||Acts similar to dogs with little to no smell. They have adopted certain behaviors such as barking, floppy ears, wagging their tails, and even vocalizing.|
Are Urban Foxes Friendly?
Urban foxes can be friendly. However, they’re still wild foxes, so they can exhibit the same aggressive tendencies when feeling threatened. Exercising caution is still important.
Lock your windows and doors, and keep your children and other household pets indoors. When encountering an urban fox, intimidate it, but also give it a path to escape.
What Attracts Foxes to Your Yard?
Food wastes are the most likely culprit, especially when your trash cans aren’t properly closed. This includes fallen fruit, vegetable matter, and deadstock that are scattered in your yard.
Foxes are also attracted to spaces between or under buildings, porches, and sheds where they can build dens or stock food. Overgrown gardens are spaces where foxes can rest, so make sure to trim when you can.
Bird feeds can also be a cause. Be sure to clean the ground after feeding birds and do so only in the morning.
What Do You Do With Baby Foxes in Your Garden?
It’s recommended to let them be but when you’re in a situation that necessitates you interacting or touching the cub, do so carefully and without scaring it.
If the fox cub has its eyes closed, it could mean that they have split up with their parents accidentally after their dens were damaged. On the other hand, if you find them with their eyes open and looking quite healthy, you can safely observe the fox cub from a distance at least overnight.
If the fox cub is in any way hurt, transfer the cub to a safe spot nearby where its parents can find it. Regularly check the spot if the cub has been collected by its parents or not.
In any case, call your local conservation centers for help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Foxes Befriend Humans?
Foxes do befriend humans, but only when you feed them. Otherwise, they couldn’t be bothered making friends with humans as they come to human spaces to look for food.
It’s highly discouraged to feed foxes to not let them keep approaching humans and get used to asking for food.
Which Fox Is the Friendliest?
Gray foxes are considered the friendliest fox species due to their calm demeanors. They’re mostly found in woodlands and near swamps and thickets, though, so encountering them won’t be a common phenomenon.
Are Pet Foxes Friendly?
Pet foxes are friendly because they’re accustomed to human presence. However, they can still develop annoying fox tendencies such as making loud noises and scent marking.
Pet foxes might also feel threatened when your household keeps other pets, such as larger-sized cats and dogs, so make sure they’re used to their presence too.
Are Red Foxes Friendly?
Red foxes can be friendly and virtually pose no threat to humans and relatively larger-sized pets.
Are Arctic Foxes Friendly?
Arctic foxes are friendly. They’re even considered friendlier than red foxes but can still be nuisances. Rabies-infected arctic foxes may come off as unnaturally friendly, so be sure to watch out for them.
Are Baby Foxes Friendly?
Baby foxes are friendly. In fact, baby foxes are virtually harmless since they haven’t developed any robust survival instincts yet, nor do they have a good sense of danger.
Foxes are generally friendly animals but can resort to aggressive behavior when feeling threatened. As such, they don’t make excellent pets but taming or domesticating them is possible.
When facing a fox, act out intimidation tactics but make sure they have an escape route, or else they’ll lash out and attack you.
List of Sources
Learn about foxes. Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Fox Nuisance Problems. (2020). Connecticut – Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus). Alaska – Department of Fish and Game.
Gray Fox. Connecticut – Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Drabek, D. (2019). Foxy Behavior: how a Russian fox farm uncovered the basis of canine domestication. Harvard University.